Spring clean for Nostell Priory dolls house

Ellie Matthews, National Trust conservation engagement assistant, cleans the doll's house. PIC: James Hardisty
Ellie Matthews, National Trust conservation engagement assistant, cleans the doll's house. PIC: James Hardisty
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SPRING cleaning may not, at first, appear too daunting a task when the house in question is just seven foot tall.

You might think a quick dust and vacuum would suffice to keep a doll’s house in tip-top condition.

But conservation experts at Nostell Priory stately home near Wakefield are dealing with a massive clean up on a miniature scale.

They are set to embark on the annual spring clean of the Nostell doll’s house, which dates back to 1735.

It was reputedly built by master craftsman Thomas Chippendale and is one of the most important treasures in the National Trust’s collection.

There are more than 300 incredibly detailed individual items in the doll’s house, which all have to be removed and painstakingly cleaned.

The doll’s house tableware is made of crystal, all of the silver is hallmarked and all the fireplaces were copied from James Gibb’s 1728 Book of Architecture.

A marble topped parlour table has real wrought-iron brackets and a cabinet in the drawing room is inlaid with ivory.

Ellie Matthews, conservation assistant at Nostell, said: “Traditionally it is thought to have been built by a young Thomas Chippendale, who was born at Otley. Whilst we can’t prove this, Nostell is home to one of the largest collections of Chippendale furniture in the country and the doll’s house has many replica pieces of similar furniture in miniature.

“Care and attention is needed with each of the tiny pieces. We’ll be removing each item, carefully dusting it and checking for damage or deterioration before placing it back in the house.

“The cleaning of the doll’s house will be done whilst visitors are in the house and is a great opportunity for them to see the work the National Trust does to conserve our collections.

“It also means that whilst cleaning, we can point out things they might not notice on first glance.

“One quirky feature that we have is a very tiny replica mouse which lives in the doll’s house. Its location changes every year, and children enjoy spying out where it lives.”

Nostell Priory has been in the care of the National Trust since 1954.

For more information about visiting Nostell, call 01924 863892 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nostell.

mark.lavery@ypn.co.uk

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